Special Report

Special Report

The Pope’s Climate Confusion

By 6.23.15

As the leader of perhaps the single largest institution in the world — the Roman Catholic Church — the pope potentially influences at least the Church’s 1.2 billion members, and perhaps millions of others around the globe. His sway makes it critical that when pontificating on matters beyond religion — matters which impact public policy both within and among nations — he acquire and consider a wide range of information from experts across the relevant political, scientific, economic, and philosophical spectra before making his influential pronouncements.

Unfortunately, when it comes to the environment and climate change, about which he just issued an encyclical focused “on care for our common home,” Pope Francis seems to have shrouded himself in confirmation bias of the worst sort, taking in little information that did not conform to his pre-existing anti-capitalist bias and leading to analysis and policy prescriptions that are not just erroneous but harmful.

Special Report

In Memoriam: R. Randolph Richardson

By 6.19.15

R. Randolph Richardson, World War II veteran, patriot, businessman, sailor, husband and father, who as president of the Smith Richardson Foundation in the 1970s and 1980s directed and sustained research in economics and national security that laid the intellectual underpinnings of what became known as the Reagan Revolution, died at his home in Long Island, N.Y. last Memorial Day following a long illness. His opposition to communist imperialism and statist subversion of the liberties that made America led him to seek out thinkers who could make the case for free men, free markets, national security. His highly original approach to philanthropy was based on the recognition, shared by a small number of individuals in the immediate post-war years, that American conservatives neglected the battle of ideas, preferring to seek ways of accommodating or getting along with the enemies of freedom instead of confronting them. His impact on the shape and quality of the continuing debate on the conditions needed to sustain a free society cannot be overstated.

Special Report

Praise ‘Be Praised’ for Its Intent, Not Execution

By 6.18.15

A lengthy new papal encyclical is being rolled out today. A version of Laudato Si, or “Be Praised”—thought by most observers to be final, though the Vatican said otherwise—was leaked on Monday. It is a highly political discussion of the theology of the environment.

In fact, Pope Francis addresses not just fellow Catholics but “every person who inhabits this planet,” with whom he proposes “to enter into discussion… regarding our common home.” Climate change is high on his list. With the UN pushing a new agreement for December, Christiana Figueres, head of the UN Climate Change Secretariat, exulted that the encyclical “is going to have a major impact.”

Special Report

Limits to the Left’s Subjectivism?

By 6.17.15

The Rachel Dolezal story has put the Left in an awkward spot. An obviously white woman who has long presented herself to the world as black, Dolezal is testing the Left’s commitment to its own radical subjectivism.

Frustrated by comparisons of Dolezal to the transgenderism they embrace, many liberals have declared the two cases completely different. But they have failed to show one, at least not a substantial philosophical difference. In both cases, a human being seeks to erase an immutable trait in order to assert a “self-definition” that exists in the mind, not the body.

If humans have a right to define the “authentic self” without regard to their given human nature, why should that right be restricted to one fixed trait but not all of them? The Left has no answer to this question. All it can do is flail and argue that being transgender is somehow morally better than being transracial because the former is more trendy and societally approved.

Special Report

A Bicycle, an Infection, and a Lie

By 6.14.15

“Land of Song!” said the warrior bard,
“Tho’ all the world betrays thee,
One sword, at least, thy rights shall guard,
One faithful harp shall praise thee!”
— “The Minstrel Boy” by Thomas Moore

The last two weeks have seen a surprising sequence of events surrounding the Iran nuclear weapons talks. It all started on the night of Friday, May 29 when John Kerry arrived in Geneva for an all-day talk scheduled for the following day, Saturday, May 30. The talks did not go well. A senior administration official described them as “intense,” which is diplomatic-speak for “nasty.” There had been plans to continue the next day, but the Iranians mysteriously hightailed it out of Dodge City that night.

Special Report

The Constitutional Convention Trap

By 6.11.15

A dangerous idea has been circulating over the past few years: that it is time to call a new Constitutional convention, to remedy the vast overreach of federal power. But therein lies a treacherous trap: such a body’s powers cannot be limited. The end result easily could prove the polar opposite of what those seeking revision intended.

Conventions are by their nature extraordinary bodies whose powers are inherently plenary. The 1787 convocation in Philadelphia was a runaway convention. Tasked with merely revising the Articles of Confederation’s “firm league of friendship” among sovereign states, it created a supreme federal government whose sovereignty trumped that of the states. The feeble federal government created by the Articles could not even levy taxes; we should be so lucky today.

It was the cause of preserving the federal Union thus established, and not that of abolishing slavery, that triggered our ruinous Civil War 83 years after the Constitution was ratified. Thus Abraham Lincoln said during America’s epic fratricidal conflict that he must have Kentucky, a slave state he successfully wooed to join the North.

Special Report

Global Left’s Machiavellian Misrepresentation of the Pope Is Failing

By 6.8.15

There has not been this kind of palace intrigue at the Vatican since the 1500s. Foreign potentates are making a power grab, trying to seize the moral authority of the papacy for their own, secular ends. Like modern-day courtiers, lay and clerical aides to Pope Francis are slyly assisting these foreign princes from the United Nations, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and other such non-friends of Catholicism. In public comments, for months, officials such as Jeffrey Sachs and Ban Ki Moon from the UN, and lay leaders such as Margaret Archer at the Vatican, have been telling the public the pope believes it is time for radical regulatory action on the environment.

The pope’s forthcoming encyclical, they say, will come down hard on the wicked polluters, and his moral clarion call will be further articulated in public addresses to the U.S. Congress and UN General Assembly this fall. Stifling, universal environmental regulations will have the papal imprimatur. If God is with the Left, who can be against them, right?

Special Report

Halfway There: Wisconsin Becomes the 25th Right-to-Work State

By and 6.5.15

Governor Scott Walker sat with rolled up sleeves at a table with a “Freedom to Work” sign emblazoned across the front.

The invitation-only ceremony was held at Badger Meter, a manufacturing company near Milwaukee, Wisconsin on March 9, 2015.

To Wisconsin Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald, Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, and the other invitees, Walker said the legislation he was about to sign would send “a powerful message across the country and around the world.”

The drama was heightened by an irony — only months earlier, Walker had seemed cool on right-to-work, calling it a “distraction.”

Nevertheless, with the stroke of his pen that March day, right-to-work became the law in Wisconsin — workers were now free to opt-out of union membership and dues.

But the next day, the unions rolled up their own sleeves, beginning the inevitable legal challenges to the law, charging it violated Wisconsin’s Constitution.

Special Report

Nebraska Repeals the Death Penalty

By 5.28.15

Nebraska State Senator Colby Coash (R-Lincoln), a conservative Republican (although Nebraska’s unicameral legislature is nominally non-partisan), tells an interesting story about his evolution on the death penalty:

Many years ago, just before an execution in Nebraska and before he got involved in politics, he went to the prison to see what was happening outside before the criminal was put to death inside. While there were some anti-death penalty protesters, most of the scene resembled a big tailgate party. Coash, then in favor of the death penalty, partied right along with his fellow Cornhuskers. When he got home that evening, the experience didn’t sit right with him and he realized that he couldn’t celebrate the death of a person, particularly at the hand of government, even while knowing that that person probably deserved to die. Coash’s view on the death penalty was changed for good.

Special Report

Sexual Ethics in the Koran and in the Obama Administration

By 5.28.15

It’s interesting to compare traditions from different religions that cater to the baser instincts of their adherents. So, for example, the Jewish tradition requires that on Purim, which celebrates Queen Esther saving Persian Jews from the death sentence imposed by Haman, Jews get so drunk that they are unable to tell the difference between the villainous Haman and Mordechai, the heroic uncle of Queen Esther. The general hilarity is enhanced by the fact that we are dressed up in outlandish costumes and twirl noisemakers whenever Haman’s name is mentioned. Think of it as Halloween for adults.

My Irish-Catholic husband of over 30 years loves this holiday, in which he happily participates. For my part, I love the tradition of the Irish wake. It’s not that I don’t sympathize with the family and friends of the deceased. It’s just that there is something so satisfyingly cathartic about spending a night drinking and crying with a group of people. You don’t even need to know them to share in this bonding experience. After all, we’ve all known grief, and here is an opportunity to express it openly and without embarrassment.